Cowley, Abraham . The Third Part of the Works of Mr. Abraham Cowley Being his Six Books of Plants
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NOW Muse, if ever, now look brisk and gay;
The Spring's at hand; blithe looks like that display.
Use all the Schemes and colours now of Speech,
Use all the Flow'rs that Poetry enrich.
Its Glories all, its blooming Beauties bring,
As may resemble the returning Spring.
Let the same Musick through thy Verse resound
As in the Woods and shady Groves is found.
Let every line such fragrant praise exhale
As rises up from some sweet-smelling Vale.
Let Lights and Shades, as in the Woods appear,
And shew in painted Verse the season of the Year.

Come then away, for the first welcome Morn
Of the spruce Moneth of May begins to dawn.
This Day; so tells the Poets sacred Page;
Bright Chloris did in Nuptial bands engage,
This very day the knot was tied; and thence
The lovely Maid a Goddess did commence.
The signs of joy did everywhere appear,
On Earth, in Heaven, throughout the Sea and Air;       20 [image]
No wandring Cloud was seen in all the Sky,
And if there were, 'twas of a curious dye.       [Latin: 20]
The Air serene, not an ungentle blast
Ruffled the waters with its rude embrace,
The wind that was, breath'd Odours all around,
And only fann'd the streams, and only kiss'd the ground.
Of unknown Flow'rs now such a numerous birth
Appear'd, as e'en astonish'd Mother Earth.
The Lily grew 'midst barren Heath and Sedg,
And the Rose blush'd on each unprickly hedg.
The purple Violet and the Daffodil,
The places now of angry Nettles fill,
This great and joyful Day, on which she knew
What 'twas to be a Wife and Goddess too.
The grateful Flora yearly did express
In shews, Religious Pomp and gaudiness,
Long as she thriv'd in Rome, and reign'd among
The other Gods, a vast and numerous throng;
But when the sacred Tribe was forc'd from Rome.
Among the rest an Exile she became,       40
Strip'd of her Plays, and of her Fane bereft,
Nought of the grandeur of a Goddess left.       [Latin: 40]
Since then, no more ador'd on Earth by Man,
But forc'd o'er Flowers to preside and reign,
The best she can, she still keeps up the Day;
Not as of old, when bless'd with store she lay,
When with a lavish hand her bounties flew,
She ha'nt the heart, and means to do it now,
But in a way fitting her humble state
She always did, and still does celebrate.
And now that she the better may attend
The flowry Empire under her command,
To all the World at times she does resort,
Now in this part, now that she keeps her Court.
And so the Seasons of the year require;
For here 'tis Spring, perhaps 'tis Autumn there.
With ease she flies to the remotest shores,
And visits in the way a world of Flow'rs.
In Zephyr's painted Car she cuts the Air,
Pleas'd with the way, her Spouse the Charioteer.       60
It was the year, (thrice blest that beautious year,)
Which mighty Charles's sacred Name did bear.
A golden year the Heavens brought about
In high procession with a joyful shout,       [Latin: 60]
A year that barr'd up Janus brazen Gates, [image]
that brought home peace, and lay'd our monstrous heats;
A greater gift, bless'd Albion, thou didst gain,
It brought home God-like Charles, and all his peaceful train;
Compos'd our Chaos; cover'd o'r the fears,
And clos'd the bleeding wounds of twenty years;
Nor felt the Gown alone the fruits of peace,
But Gardens, Woods, and all the flowry race;
This year to every thing fresh honours brought,
Nor 'midst these were the learned Arts forgot.
Poor exil'd Flora with the Sylvan Gods
Came back again to their old lov'd abodes;

I saw her (through a Glass my Muse vouchsaf'd)
Plac'd on the painted bow securely waft.
Triumphantly she rode, and made her course
Towards fair Albion's long forsaken Shores.       80
That she our Goddess was, to me was plain
From the gay various colours of her train.
She light, renowned Thames, upon thy shore,
Long time belov'd, and shown to her before;
'Twas here the Goddess an Appointment set
For all the Flow'rs; accordingly they met; [image] [image]       [Latin: 80]
Those that are parch'd with heat, or pinch'd with cold,
Or those which a more temperate Clime does hold,
Those drunk with dew, the Sun just rising sees,
Or those, when setting, with a face like his,
All sorts that East and West can boast, were there,
But not such Flow'rs as you see growing here,
Poor mortal Flow'rs, obnoxious still to harms,
Which quickly die out of their mothers arms;
But those that Plato saw, Ideas nam'd,
Daughters of Jove, for heavenly extract fam'd.
T'Æthereal Plants! what Glories they disclose,
What excellence the first Celestial Rose;
What blush, what smell! and yet on many scores,
the Learned say, it much resembles ours;       100
Onely 'tis ever fresh, with long life bless'd,
Not in your fading mortal colours dress'd. [image] [image]
This Rose, the Image of the heavenly mind,       [Latin: 100]
The other growing on our Earth, we find;
Which is the Image of that Image, then
No wonder it appears less fresh and fine.
These Heaven-born species of the flowry race
Assembled all, the Wedding Morn to grace.

Phoebus, do thou the Pencil take, the same
With which thou gildst the worlds great chequer'd frame.
Lights Pencil take; try if thou canst display
The various Scenes of this resplendent Day.
And yet I doubt thy skill, though all must bow
To thee as God of Plants and Poets too;
I'm sure 'tis much too hard a task for me,
Yet some I'll touch,in passing, like the Bee.
Where the whole Garden can't be had, we know,
A Nosegay may; and that if sweet, will do.

Now when a part of this triumphant Day
In sacred pompous Rites had pass'd away,       120
Rites, which no mortal Tongue can duly tell,
And which perhaps 'ts not lawful to reveal,       [Latin: 120]
At length the sporting Goddess thought it best
(Though sure the humour went beyond a Jest)
A pleasant sort of Trial to propose,
And from among the Plants a Queen to chuse,
Which shou'd preside over the flowry Race,
Be a Vice-Goddess and supply her place.
Each Plant was to appear, and make its plea,
To see which best deserv'd the Dignity.
The Scene Arch'd o'r with wreathing branches stood,
Which like a little hollow Temple show'd, [image] [image]
The Shrubs and Branches, darting from aloof
Their pretty fragrant shades, compos'd the roof;
Red and white Jasmine, with the Myrtle Tree
The favourite of the Cyprian Deity,
The golden Apple-tree with silver bud,
Both sorts of Pipe-tree, with the Sea-dew stood;
There was the twining Woodbind to be seen,
And yellow Hather, Roses mixt between.       140
Each Plant its Notes and known distinctions brought
With various Art the gaudy Scene was wrought;
Just in the Nave of this new-modell'd Fane,
A Throne the judging Goddess did sustain,       [Latin: 140]
Rob'd in a thousand several sorts of leaves,
And all the colours which the Garden gives,
Which join'd together trim, in wondrous wise,
With their deluding Figures mock'd your Eyes.
A noble checquer'd work; which real seems,
And firmly set with glistring Stones and Gems;
It real seem'd; though Gods such bodies wear
For weight, as Flow'rs upon their down may bear;
The Goddess seated in Majestick wise
With all the pride the wealthy Spring supplies,
Had Ariadne's Crown; and such a vest
With which the Rainbow on bright days is drest;
Before her Throne did the officious band
Of Hours, Days,Months in goodly order stand. [image] [image]
The Hours upon soft painted wings were born,
Painted; but swift alas! and quickly gone;       160
The Days with nimble feet advanc'd apace;
And then the Months, each with a different face,
On Cynthia's Orb they tend with constant care,
In Monthly Courses whirling round her Sphere.       [Latin: 160]
First Spring, a Rosy-colour'd Youngster, stood
With looks enough to bribe a judging God.
Summer appear'd, rob'd in a yellow Gown,
Full Ears of ripen'd Corn compos'd her Crown;
Then Autumn proud of rich Pomona's store,
And Bacchus too treading the blushing floor;
Poor half-starv'd Winter shivering in the Rear,
The Stoical and sullen part o' th'year.
Yet not by Step-dame Nature wholly left
Of every grace is Winter-time bereft.
Some Friends it has in this afflicted state,
Some Plants that Faith and Duty don't forget;
Some Plants the Winter season does supply
Born purely for delight and luxury;
Which brave the frost and cold, and merit claim,
Though few indeed, and of a lower frame.       180
The New Year did him this peculiar grace,
And Janus favouring with his double face, [image]       [Latin: 180]
That he shou'd first be heard; and have the power
To draw forth all his poor and slender store.
Winter obeys; and ranks 'em, best he can,
More trusting to the worth than number of his Men.
Just in the front of Winter's scanty band
Two lofty Plants, or flowry Giants stand,
Spurge-Olive one, t'other a kind of Bay.
Both high, and largely spreading every way,
But did they in a milder season sprout,
Whether they e'er wou'd pass for Flow'rs, I doubt,
But now they do; and such their looks and smell
The place they hold, they seem to merit well.
Next Woolfs-bane, us'd in Step-dames poisoning trade,
Born of the foam of Pluto's Porter, said,
A baneful Plant, springing in craggy ground,
Thence its hard name, itself much harder found;
Briskly its gilded Crest it does display,
And boldly stares i' th'face the God of Day,
|       200
Which Cerberus its Sire durst ne'r assay. [image]
The Plant, call'd Snow-drops, next in course appear'd, 123
But trembling, by its frightful Neighbour scar'd,       [Latin: 200]
Yet clad in white her self, like fleecy Snow,
Near her bad Neighbour, finer does she show.
The noble Liver-wort does next appear,
Without a speck, like the unclouded Air;
A Plant of noble use and endless fame,
The Liver's great Preserver, thence its Name;
The humble Plant conscious of inbred worth
In Winters hardest frost and cold, shoots forth.
Let other Plants, said she, for seasons wait,
For Summer gales, or the Suns kindly heat,
She scorns delay; naked, without a Coat,
As 'twere in hast, the noble Plant comes out.
Next the blew Primrose, which in Winter blows,
But wears the Spring both in its name and cloaths;
The Saffron then, and tardy Celandin,
To these our Lady's-Seal, and Sow-bread join.
But these appearing out of season, were       220
Bid to their homes and proper tribes repair.
There now remain'd of Winters genuine store
And off-spring, Bears-foot or the Christmas Flow'r, 124
The pride of Winter, which in frost can live,       [Latin: 220]
And now alone for Empire dar'd to strive.
On its black stalk it rear'd it self, and then
With pale but fearless face to plead began.


[123] These Plants by Art sometimes are made to flower in Winter.


[124] This flower's in December.